Anyone who has had severe anxiety will know the daily struggles faced that can be tough and tiring mentally and physically. All enjoyment of communicating and socialising with people is lost and is hard to really figure out why. Exposure therapy is a method beating anxiety by literally throwing yourself into the anxious situations that get your fight and flight mode kicking off. The goal is to endure and rise to noticing how you feel after exposing yourself, whether it be speaking to someone you have never spoke to before, or speaking to someone who you had pre judgements about, either way exposure therapy really develops you into one confident person.
How I began to use exposure therapy was by simply starting off simple, by greeting people at my office job, as soon as I would walk in I would say “Morning” or “Hi” to anyone passing, and if someone asked how I was, I would respond back. I kept it brief and simple at first as I had never really done this before and had always ignored people when seeing them, not even smiling (not me now!). Slowly I developed my confidence and was able to ask people how they were and to ask more open ended questions to gain more questions and answers, thus carrying on a conversation. Soon enough it was like brushing my teeth, I didn’t feel nervous or anxious and could talk to anyone about anything.
You have to allow yourself to work in baby steps and only then will it be easy for you to start off small and work your way up to feeling more comfortable in different situations and around different people. Basically, if you think of the times when your heart races, you sweat, panick, fidget and hide away, you need to start working on exposing yourself in those moments and not to run away, but to instead face what you are fearing.
Note Uncomfortable Situations
For example if you feel uncomfortable when you go shopping, go shopping more with the intention to smile at people and make small talk were relevant, or simply walk about the mall and expose yourself to more people and give eye contact. If you feel uncomfortable around a certain person, talk to them more, make the effort to give eye contact and clear your mind of any judgements and thoughts of that person – just see them as another being.
If you are uncomfortable when sitting on a bus or train, sit yourself at the front seats instead of the back, smile and talk to someone about nothing important – It makes a difference to you. Whatever and whenever you are uncomfortable around people, note it down and make the intention and effort to really face your fears no matter what; embrace the pain that is temporary and train yourself to ensure the moments were you feel uncomfortable.
Feeling socially anxious can have a lot to do with appearance as well as one might be self conscious and afraid of people looking at them, but in the real world that’s how it is, people will look and stare at you and its up to you to deal with, most people don’t mean harm, and are just observing their surroundings. Working on loving yourself and self care can really improve your self love and enable to you feel more confident about who you are, what you look like and what you speak.